By Liana Jacob
THIS MUM-OF-TWO became overweight after experiencing abuse as a child, but this all changed when she met the love of her life, overhauled her diet and dropped SEVEN DRESS SIZES.
Growing up, weight loss coach, Shandra Redwine (34) from Michigan, USA, was physically and psychologically abused by her stepfather between the ages of four and 13. He would hit her and made her feel worthless.
The traumatising experience lead to her indulging in food for years which increased her weight to 18st 8Ib and a UK size 26. It wasn’t until Shandra was 13 that he was arrested for domestic and child abuse after a stranger saw him hit her in the face outside their house.
Despite him being out of her life after her mum divorced him, the emotional ordeal she went through didn’t stop her from binging on food. She met engineer and the love of her life, Gerald (39), when she was 16-years-old and they got married in 2011.
A few years later, they both agreed they wanted to try to have children, as they were in their late twenties. This is when she stepped on the scales and this was a wakeup call for her. She wanted to lose weight to improve her health to be the best mum for their future children and after taking up running and changing her diet, she shrunk down to a healthy 10st 4Ib and a UK size 12.
In 2014 they welcomed their first child, Brecken (4) and two years later they had another son, Hendrick (2). She has since taken back her confidence her stepfather had stolen from her and couldn’t be happier as a wife and mum-of-two. They all go out for walks together, running and exploring.
“I was raised by my wonderful mother and step-dad until they divorced and then I met my biological father to whom I have been close ever since,” Shandra said.
“I was slightly overweight as a teenager and quickly gained one-hundred pounds in my twenties. I think the emotional consequence of a traumatic childhood at the hands of a controlling and abusive parent were a huge factor in my weight gain.
“I had no self-esteem or self-worth, crippling anxiety, and freedom for the first time in my life. I feel like I was a person filled with hopes and dreams for my life that were far bigger than the reality I was living.
“I knew I was capable of so much more, but I was disgusted with myself and I didn’t know how to fix it. My stepfather who raised me from age of four to fourteen was extremely controlling and strict, and both verbally and physically abusive (mostly to my mother and I).
“He was finally arrested for domestic and child abuse when I was thirteen-years-old, after a bystander saw him hitting me in the face in our front yard.
“They divorced after that. I feel the long term effects of the verbal and emotional abuse took the greatest toll.
“I met my husband at sixteen-years-old and we’ve been together ever since. We’ll have been married eight years this September.
“My husband and I had decided we wanted to try to have children and we were both already in our late twenties.
“One day I stepped on the scale at two-hundred-and-sixty pounds and the realisation that I was closer to three-hundred than two-hundred was just too much.
“I knew that I could not bring children into the world in that condition. I knew that I wanted so much more for them and for myself.”
Shandra decided to join a gym and set a goal for herself to go every day for 21 days to set a new and healthy routine. She also temporarily joined Weight Watchers to learn how to eat better and managed to lose 4st 9Ib.
She now says that losing this weight has changed her life for the better and has restored her self-worth and confidence.
“After I had lost one-hundred pounds, I pulled my wedding dress out of the back of the closet and posted a photo of the difference,” she said.
“The photo went viral and was seen by someone at the Rachel Ray show. They ended up having us on the show to renew our vows last year.
“They sent me out in NYC to pick a new wedding dress which I surprised my husband with live on the show. Losing the weight has changed everything about my life; first and foremost, it has changed how I believe and think about myself.
“I am capable of anything now. Furthermore, my health has dramatically improved, I’m extremely physically active with my family and so many day-to-day activities have improved or are now available to me for the first time.
“I am filled with confidence and self-worth. I go after everything I want for my life and encourage others to do the same. I’m proud of my accomplishments and the example that I am to my children.
“Since the very beginning, I slowly grew a passion for running. I am now a half-marathoner and daily runner. I also lift weights and I’m very active along with my family hiking and exploring.
“I always say the hardest part is the mental work; it’s about changing your habits for life and about changing the way that you think about yourself.
“Surprisingly, the most difficult thing has been adjusting as I’ve continued to lose more and more weight. So much of your life changes and how the world sees you changes but who you are on the inside takes a long time and work to catch up to it.
“People close to me often say that they don’t ever remember me being that weight. People I meet or who see my photos often have many questions and are quick to point out how vulnerable and real my posts are.
“Strangers tell me how I make it possible for other regular people to feel like it’s possible. Most people can’t believe that I was ever that overweight.
“You don’t have to figure it all out and don’t think about the big goal. Just take it one step at a time, set small goals, and just keep moving forward. You might fail a hundred times or more along the way and that’s ok. Just keep going.”